Best mid-range Android smartphones of 2012

April 18, 2012

Although devices such as the Droid RAZR MAXX, the Galaxy Nexus and the HTC One X are obviously the cream of the Android crop, many Android fans don’t want to spend top dollar on a high-end smartphone that will become obsolete in little more than a year. Since cheap Android smartphones should be actively avoided (for reasons I’ve detailed in this previous article here), the only remaining alternative is to buy an excellent mid-range Android smartphone.

Given the wide variety of Android smartphones that fall under the mid-range category, many potential buyers might stray away from the smart choices out there. This article is intended to help you pick one of the best mid-level Android smartphones. As this article is intended to remain valid for the entire year of 2012, the bar will be set in relation to top-end smartphones such as the HTC One X, as well as in relation to the rumors, leaks and official announcements regarding flaghsip devices of 2012 from manufacturers such as Motorola, Samsung and LG. Basically, a mid range Android smartphone for 2012 is any device that will not be released as a flagship smartphone but is noticeably better than all entry-level alternatives. Speaking of which, entry level alternatives at the 2012 level will have to match or exceed the specs and features of mid-range smartphones released in 2011.

HTC One S

htc one s 1

The first smartphone on our list, the HTC One S, can be considered a mid-range smartphone only when compared against the HTC One X (and even then the One S holds a few advantages over the One X). There are only a couple of factors that make the One S a mid-range smartphone: its less than top-class display and a smaller price than that of the HTC One X. The HTC One S – the slimmest smartphone ever made by HTC – is the most expensive device on this list, but its specs and design more than justify its price.

Note: The HTC One V did not make it into our list of the mid-range smartphones for 2012 because it’s more of an entry-level smartphone.

Specs

  • Display: 4.3 inch Super AMOLED (540 x 960 pixels)
  • SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon S4
  • CPU: 1.5GHz dual-core Krait
  • GPU: Ardeno 225
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Internal Storage: 16GB (no SD card slot)
  • Cameras: 8MP primary + VGA secondary
  • Android Version: 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Release date: April 2012 in Europe, US release date unannounced (estimated for May 2012)

Advantages

  • Most of its specs (especially the Snapdragon S4 SoC)
  • Ice Cream Sandwich

Setbacks

  • High price (for a mid-level smartphone)
  • No SD card slot

Huawei Ascend P1

Huawei-Ascend-P1

Back at CES 2012, Huawei announced the world’s slimmest smartphone, the Ascend P1 S, measuring a thickness of only 6.8mm and packing top-end specs. Despite the fact that no one saw this coming from Huawei, the most interesting thing (given the topic of this article) is that the P1 S also has a bigger and thicker brother called the Ascend P1. Featuring the same impressive specs as its slimmer brother, it’s obvious that the Ascend P1 will be cheaper than the P1 S, already expected to be priced below smartphones with similar specs (that’s sort of Huawei’s business model). Add the fact that the P1 is also quite slim compared to other smartphones (just 7.7mm thick) and we might be looking at the best mid-range Android smartphone for the year of 2012.

Specs

  • Display: 4.3 inch Super AMOLED (540 x 960 pixels)
  • CPU: 1.5GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4460
  • GPU: PoverVR SGX540
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Internal storage: 4GB (expandable via SD card slot)
  • Cameras: 8MP primary + 1.3 MP secondary
  • Android version: 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Release Date: May 2012 (rumored)

Advantages

  • Mid-range powerhouse
  • Slimmest device in the list
  • Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box

Setbacks

  • Just 4GB of internal memory

LG Lucid

 

Despite the fact that the LG Lucid is a recent addition to Verizon’s LTE line-up, you can still get it for only $80 on a 2 year contract with Big Red. Design-wise, the Lucid is slightly different than LG’s Optimus line, something many find to be a good thing. Its specs don’t exactly shine in any conceivable way, but they don’t disappoint either. Simply put, The LG Lucid is considered to be the best LTE-enabled mid-range Android smartphone currently available. Unfortunately for non-US residents, the LG Lucid is available only in the land of promise.

Specs

  • Display: 4.0 inch IPS LCD (480 x 800 pixel resolution)
  • CPU: 1.2 GHz dual-core (believed to be the Snapdragon S3)
  • GPU: Ardeno 220
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Internal Storage: 8GB (expandable via SD card slot)
  • Cameras: 5MP primary + VGA secondary
  • Android Version: 2.3 Gingerbead (Verizon promised a future upgrade to ICS)
  • Release date: April 2012

Advantages

  • LTE connectivity
  • Decent performance

Setbacks

  • LG’s UI overlay
  • Poor battery life
  • Not available outside the US

HTC Vivid

If you’re looking for an LTE enabled mid-range Android smartphone on AT&T, the HTC Vivid is probably the only choice you can make. Scheduled to be receiving its Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update soon, the Vivid features a large 4.5 inch S-LCD display as well as one of the best cameras out there. Currently priced at $99 with a 2 year contract on AT&T, look for the Vivid’s price to become even more attractive as months pass and newer models get released. Once its price gets slashed to $50 or maybe even free on a new contract, the HTC Vivid instantly becomes a smart choice.

Specs

  • Display: 4.5 inch SLCD (540 x 960 pixel resolution at 245 ppi pixel density)
  • CPU: 1.2GHz dual-core
  • GPU: Ardeno 220
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Internal Storage: 16GB (expandable via SD card slot)
  • Cameras: 8MP primary + 1.3MP secondary
  • Android version: 2.3 Gingerbread (soon to be upgraded to Android 4.0 ICS)
  • Release Date: November 2011

Advantages

  • Great camera quality
  • Large, vivid display
  • LTE connectivity

Setbacks

  • Cheap plastic build
  • Not available outside the US

Sony Xperia P

Although Sony is currently struggling in the top-end smartphone race, it seems like the next revamp of the Xperia line (now without the attached Ericsson branding) will mark the release of one of the most appealing mid-range Android smartphones out there, the Sony Xperia P. Featuring a unique (albeit slightly bulky) design, the Xperia P was recently spotted passing through the FCC, indicating what is looking to be an imminent worldwide release. If the price announced for the unlocked UK version of the Xperia P is any indication (ÂŁ330.00 inc. VAT), we might be looking at the smartphone with one of the best performance-for-buck ratios out there.

Specs

  • Display: 4.0 inch LED-backlit LCD (540 x 960 pixels, 275 ppi pixel density)
  • CPU: 1GHz dual-core
  • GPU: DB8500
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Internal Storage: 16GB (no SD card slot)
  • Cameras: 8MP + VGA secondary
  • Android Version: 2.3 Gingerbread (upgrade to ICS in the works)
  • Release Date: April 23 (rumored)

Advantages

  • Great display
  • Unique design

Setbacks

  • No SD card slot

Samsung Galaxy Ace 2

Back at MWC 2012, Samsung officially announced the Galaxy Ace 2. While it is not exactly the most powerful Android smartphone out there, it still represents a a decent follow-up to the very successful Galaxy Ace. The design is simplistic, although early reports speak of a pretty decent overall build quality. Although you might find that spec-wise, the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 is the least impressive smartphone on this list, chances are it will also be among the cheapest. In other words, a true successor to the original Galaxy Ace.

Specs

  • Display: 3.8 inch PLS TFT (480 x 800 pixel resolution)
  • CPU: 800Mhz dual-core
  • RAM: 768MB
  • Internal Storage: 4GB (expandable via SD card slot)
  • Cameras: 5MP primary + VGA secondary
  • Android version: Android 2.3 Gingerbread
  • Release Date: May 2012 (rumored)

Advantages

  • Low price (around $300 off-contract)

Setbacks

  • Almost entry-level specs

ZTE Mimosa X

As NVIDIA puts it, “a premium mobile computing experience is coming to the mainstream smartphone market”. Although the pricing is not yet official, if the rumors that claim the ZTE Mimosa X will be priced around $200 off-contract turn out to be real, you should take a closer look at the image above as you’re clearly looking at the smartphone with the best bang for buck ratio. If it were to be released last year around this period, the ZTE Mimosa X would have been a tough competitor for all top-end smartphones, as you can clearly note from the specs below.

Specs

  • Display: 4.3 inch TFT (540 x 960 pixel resolution)
  • SoC: Nvidia Tegra 2
  • CPU: 1.2GHz dual-core
  • GPU: GeForce ULP
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Internal Storage: 4GB (expandable via SD card)
  • Android Version: 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Release Date: Q2 2012

Advantages

  • Features last-year’s top specs
  • Rumors claim it will be priced at $200 off contract. If this turns out to be real, there are simply no setbacks for buying this mid-range Android smartphone.

Disadvantages

  • Design is a bit underwhelming

So folks, there you have it. The baseline price for extremely powerful devices packing incredible technology is getting lower, year after year. All of the devices above represent the best of breed, in terms of both build quality, hardware specs, and price points. Any favorites among the list? What do you think is the best mid-range Android phone out there We will keep this article actively updated as the situation changes, so let us know what you think!

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/LASHA_MRT LASHA MARTIASHVILI

    I think XPERIA P is the best smartphone :)

  • Charlie

    At the same price on contract at AT&T as the Vivid could you not call the Galaxy S2 a great midrange buy?

  • Amine Elouakil

    One S hands down although the Xperia P is great value for money

  • Mychy

    nice and helpful article, ( i`m searching for a new phone, my old one is k800i you know, its getting time)
    my chose is the p1 by huawei i hope it´s going to be as cheap as they claim. :)

  • Roadra1985

    Um….what about the Samsung Galaxy Note….AWESOME phone

    • http://thebestsmartphone2012.com/ Best Smartphone 2012

      It is not mid-range)

  • geezie

    Galaxy s Blaze 4g on team mobile should be on here!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=47908622 Benjamin Stuart Dorsey

    The Vivid is available outside of the US as the

  • Barryjohncooper

    galaxy s2 “Best phone ever” BAR NONE

    • Louis B

      Best phone ever? What a joke.

  • James Waffles

    All i am going to say is that most of them aren’t mid range phones… i have a xperia mini.. that could be considered a mid range phone but these are above mid range besides the ace 2

  • Sidedark

    Why considering Samsung galaxy ace a mid range smartphone and a HTC one V no?
    It is all mixed, not all cells really mid range smartphones.
    Compare specs of HTC One S and iphone 4S
    Not really helpful article

    • disqus_ckr7qVZNP0

      it is ace 2 , one v is single core , ace 2 is dual!!

  • Anon

    What about the newly released HTC Evo V 4G on Virgin Mobile?

  • http://www.facebook.com/nithinappus Nithin Mukundan

    what about the Samsung Galaxy wonder?

    • disqus_ckr7qVZNP0

      not as good as others at its price! especially vs xperia go or p!

  • midrangeguy

    Xperia P is a good choice

  • Anthony

    How is the HTC one S a mid range phone??? It has a quad core processor and in the same league as the Samsung galaxy s3 and iPhone 5. Smh

    • disqus_ckr7qVZNP0

      dual core s4 soc one!!!

  • disqus_ckr7qVZNP0

    fix the photo about the ace 2 , it is the ace 1 photo not the ace 2

  • Waqar

    Xperia P is the Best fone.

  • elvismsmarta

    Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 processor compared to other phones on the list is weak, at 800mHz.